Online Poems By Adrian C Louis Essay

Online Poems By Adrian C. Louis Essay, Research Paper From Salt Hill Manifest Destination A hot wind curls the leaves and chases the dogs digging deep into the dry soil.

Online Poems By Adrian C. Louis Essay, Research Paper

From Salt Hill

Manifest Destination

A hot wind curls the leaves

and chases the dogs digging

deep into the dry soil.

I live in the gut of the bright failure

called America. I live in

this hell named Nebraska.

It’s one hundred and seven today

and grasshoppers from outer

space are dancing in my brain.

The air-conditioner is broke

so I run a tub of cold water

and submerge every half hour.

There’s a wet trail from the bath

to the couch and nearby fan.

The air is heavy with grain dust.

The "wheaties" are up from Oklahoma

with their caravan of combines.

I crave winter. I want a blizzard

that blinds me to my fellow man.

These are my dark times.

Every other day I grieve for the me

that was and every man or woman

I see fills me with contempt.

Nine out of ten Skins in town are

hang-around-the-fort welfare addicts.

Every weekend their violence

and drunken wretchedness

fills the county jail, but I’m

far beyond embarrassment because

the white people are even worse.

Varied branches of that inbred, toothless

mountain trash in "Deliverance,"

settled here and now own

the bank and most businesses.

It’s undeniably true that these

white people in Cowturdville

could be hillbillies except for

the fact that these are The Plains.

Drive on, rednecks, to the edge

of your flat world and fall

down to a better hell.

Every single thing about this

town is sadly second-rate

and I haven’t been laid

in more than two years

and there’s this fat lady

with varicose veins who

calls me late at night

and begs me to come over

to her trailer for a drink.

Here, in this Panhandle town,

farm kids speed desperately up

and down the main drag wearing

baseball caps backwards and throwing

gang signs they’ve seen on the tube

and their parents, glad they’re old

and tired, truly believe that

those pictures we’re now getting

from Mars have meaning.

As far as I can tell, I’m one of the few

people in Cowturdville who’s gone

to college and I often wish I

never had, but Christ on a pogo

stick . . . I think I’m starting to like

it here in this American heartland.

Thunderheads are forming

and the sweet-ass rain

of forgiveness is in the air.


from The Cortland Review

Song of the Snake

Several years slithered by

and then an honor song played

on KILI-FM is how I find you

passed on to the spirit world.

First thought: the snake grew back.

There are some of us the snake will not

bite at all; we’re either lucky or cursed.

Others will get bit, punch the snake in

the eyeball, and toss it away forever.

And others of us will get bit, yank

the snake away and leave the teeth

imbedded in our inflamed flanks.

We’ll be fine for a while, then those

fangs will begin to gestate; eventually

the snake will grow back full-sized

and spitting, guiding us to stand

with shit-pants and wild, holy eyes,

hands out, begging for a cure.

Tahansi…that was you

when last we met.


Adios Again, My Blessed Angel

of Thunderheads and Urine

Ah, so there you are, somewhere between the

demerol and the morphine, silently emptying

my catheter jug. Don’t do that, I want to say,

but my voice is lost from two weeks on the

ventilator. Baby Girl, I want to say hello, say

I know your name, say how much I’ve always

loved you, but only a rasp comes and then you

are gone forever again.

I know I’ve got a crinkled picture of you

boxed somewhere in my shuttered house.

The image is as foreign as it is faded.

Somewhere west of Tulsa, you are leaning

against a black Bug, smiling and pointing

at a remarkable formation of thunderheads

that tower and bluster miles past heaven.

Your long, black hair dances below your waist.

Your worn Navy bell bottoms are snug against

your perfect legs, your strong, loving hips.

After I snap the photo, you tell me that

you’re going back to nursing school.

Me, I’ll wander in the wilderness for thirty years

before I see you again, and then, it will be only

for a brief minute while you empty my urine

bucket and I try to cough up words that

will not come like the flashing pain beneath

my sutures that signals healing and wonder.


from Hanksville

Note to a Young Rez Artist

Hey, I thought they were eagles circling

above, a good luck sign for Skins, but closer

inspection revealed them to be the turkey

vultures of broken English.

Hey, I remember once you sent me

a hand-scrawled note saying you were out

of typewriter ribbons and I sent you off

fifty bucks that same day

and you wrote back saying you got

the ribbons and some Big Macs to boot.

Young brother, now I’m puzzled

down to the core of my sour-wine soul,

I’m mired in middle age

and you’re becoming famous

before your time and I’d envy you

except that I, too, thought

I knew what red pain was

in my mad-groined, goofball twenties.

? 1997 Adrian Louis. Ceremonies of the Damned, University of Nevada Press.

Online source:

from North Dakota Quarterly

Getting a Second Opinion

I’ve just bought you a new winter coat

and we’re temporarily sane,

cruising two blocks down the street

from K-Mart in Rapid City.

Three young Indian boys,

fourteen, maybe fifteen years

old and living the thug life

are strolling across the busy street

making cars stop and I slam on

the brakes and give them the finger

and they flash gang signs and one pulls

a small, silver gun and I stomp on the gas

and in the rearview mirror I see them

laughing and I know positively

by the fear in your eyes that

not only is the white man’s God

dead, but the Great Spirit is too.


from New Letters

Black is This Night of Love

"I hope we make it home

before this storm," I say.

"I hope we make it home

before this storm," you say.

Me: "It’s gonna be bad."

You: "It’s gonna be bad."

It’s incredibly black, black beyond

metaphor just before the blizzard hits.

Late March, late night in the car

near Bordeaux Creek, in the pines

between Chadron and Rushville.

The trunk of our new used LeSabre

is pregnant with supplies,

mostly TV dinners from Safeway

since I do all the cooking now

and the Blue Oyster Cult anthem

"Don’t Fear the Reaper"

is rocking the oldies station.

I reach over, pretend to muss your hair

but really I’m holding down

the dark balloon that is your head.

You wiggle your skull from my hand.

"Sometimes you really get on my nerves,"

I say and reach for your hand

thinking of the three times tonight

you wandered off in the grocery store.

"Sometimes you really get on my nerves,"

you say and squeeze my hand back.

"I love you," I say.

"I love you," you say.

"Are you just mocking me?" I ask

I can’t see your eyes, not that it would help.

"Sometimes you get on my nerves," you say.

You let go of my bloodless hand.

"What’s wrong?" I ask.

"I don’t know," you say.

"Really, what’s wrong?"

Again you say that you don’t know.

"Okay," I say, "Let’s do the tables.

How much is six times six?"

You: "Sixty-six."

"Five times five?"

You: "Ninety-five."

"That’s wrong. What’s five times five?"

"I don’t know," you answer.

"Shit," I yell, exasperated.

Searing, sizzling sad, I crank up

the Blue Oyster Cult and fill the void

until the white swirling blizzard hits.

Somewhere in the blinding snow

I feel your hand on my shoulder.

"I love you," you say.

"I doubt it," I say,

a pitiful big man pouting in darkness.

"I love you, " you say, and I shudder

and reach for your hand.

It is warm and you are wakan.

from New Letters, 64:1, 148. Online source: